Breaking into the global fashion industry as a reputable designer or style influencer isn’t an easy feat.
For people of color, this challenge is even more daunting considering the fact that the industry has been white-dominated since time immemorial.
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Though the status quo and stereotyping of such people in the industry have improved for the better, a lot more still needs to be done when it comes to inclusivity.
Despite these setbacks, some black male fashion and style influencers have managed to rise above all obstacles to become prominent and sought-after people in the industry.
From New York, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Paris to Milan, these fashionistas have become household names, with their services being patronized by some of our favorite celebrities.
Check them out below:
From humble beginnings, British-Ghanaian designer Ozwald Boateng has risen to become one of the most popular international fashion designers out there. Born in London, Ozwald created his first collection with his mother’s sewing machine in the 1980s. The collection was purchased by menswear clothing store, Sprint.
With almost 30 years’ experience in the industry, Ozwald’s design blueprint is “rooted in Savile Row traditions but defined by international style, detail, and artistry.”
Ozwald’s celebrity clients include Will Smith, Idris Elba, Spike Lee, Rio Ferdinand, and Samuel L. Jackson. Others are Jamie Foxx, Daniel Day Lewis, David Bowie, Mick Jagger, just to mention a few. Ozwald received an Order of the British Empire (OBE) from the queen in 2006 for services to the clothing industry.
Ghanaian-American fashioner Virgil Abloh’s Off-White clothing brand is arguably one of the most popular high-end streetwear brands out there. Besides clothing, Off-White is also into furniture.
In 2018, Abloh wrote his name in the history books when he was announced as Louis Vuitton’s artistic director of men’s wear. This incredible feat makes him the first African-American artistic director of the popular French luxury clothing line.
A lawyer turned fashion designer, Duro Olowu was born in Lagos to a Nigerian father and Jamaican mother. Based in London and New York, Olowu’s designs are usually mixtures of prints and colors.
His signature “Duro” dress was voted as American and British Vogue’s Dress of The Year in 2005. Duro’s celebrity clients include Michelle Obama.
About how Michelle became his client, he told Alain Elkan Interviews: “Mrs. Obama became a client in the run-up to her husband’s first term. She bought pieces by me from a shop called Ikram in Chicago. When Obama became President she continued to buy and wear pieces.”
“I love to dress people I respect and I have a huge amount of respect for her. I like making clothes that are appropriate for a confident woman who doesn’t make herself out to be something she’s not. Michelle Obama was a real supporter and I felt very honoured because she wore very few non-American designers.”
Born in Ghana and raised in London, Edward Enninful has been the Editor-in-Chief of British Vogue since 2017. Beginning his career as a model, Edward transitioned into a fashion editor and stylist. Before his Vogue appointment, he held positions at i-D, as well as, W Magazine.
He has also worked with Calvin Klein, Comme des Garçons, Christian Dior, Dolce and Gabbana, and Celine. Other illustrious fashion brands that have worked with him are Lanvin, Giorgio Armani, Valentino, Jil Sander, Fendi and Gucci.
Edward received an Order of the British Empire (OBE) from the queen in 2016 for services to diversity in the fashion industry.
André Leon Talley
A force to be reckoned with, André Leon Talley’s experience and impact in the fashion industry span over several decades. He has worked for Vogue, Numero Russia, Women’s Wear Daily, W, just to mention a few.